Wednesday 8th August 2012
Again, the writing of this blog post is taking place in the Selati Train Museum restaurant, complete with delicious food and delightful company. The menu has such delicacies as Kudu salad and Crocodile and Biltong pizza – all far removed from standard English fare.
Today, our second day at Skukuza, has also been eventful. The first drive took place in the early morning, at quarter to six, consisting of one mini bus filled with a few brave souls determined to see the sunrise. Having been on the early drive the previous morning, I was still in bed, feigning sleep in order to avoid an unexpected cleaning lady. According to my sources, (a distracted Jack and Toby) the drive produced sightings of a mother and baby rhino, countless impala, a giraffe and a magnificent sunrise. After a breakfast of pancakes cooked by Abby, Steph and Amy, the main expedition of the day left at 10 o’clock. The idea was to drive north as far as we could, before needing to return, in order to get a change of scenery and find the savannah. We didn’t entirely find the open plains but we did leave the dense shrubbery that characterises the south of the park. In terms of wildlife, we didn’t see anything similar to the big cats again but that was more than made up for by the close encounters we had with other animals. I shall run through the more impressive and unusual creatures spotted along the way; a majestically antlered Kudu stag; at the other end of the spectrum, a dainty Steenbok; Vervet Monkeys; some Hippos; a Crocodile; a small herd of Waterbuck that were rather hard to identify; a few fantastically bright Southern Ground Hornbills; a herd of elephants pottering around a dry riverbed; and some Zebra.
Among some of the more large scale sightings, was the huge herd of buffalo. The majority of them were seated, nestled beneath the bushes, languidly dozing in the sun. We couldn’t see their full extent due to the foliage, but the glimpses we caught through gaps in the thicket betrayed the enormity of their number. Every space we saw through, for a hundred yards or so, was occupied by masses of horned shadows.
After having a respite stop for lunch surrounded by Glossy Blue Starlings and Hornbills, (or Zazu birds as we call them) we headed back to Skakuza. Rob inevitably decided to do a spontaneous detour that ended up in the most amazing sighting of the day. As we rounded a bend in an incredibly bumpy track we noticed a couple of Elephants amongst the trees. We looked further, and, like ants emerging from cracks in the paving, more and more became apparent. Soon we found ourselves in the middle of a large herd, with several babies, all milling around the cars. We stayed for ages, taking pictures and admiring those graceful giants. As we finally pulled away, we were confronted by two giraffe right in our path. We stayed there a while also before eventually driving back.
The rest of the afternoon was spent idling around the camp and swimming in the freezing pool. All in all, a fabulous day on safari, with many new animals spotted and many new perspectives gained.
P.S Suzy forgot to mention this yesterday, but a couple of miles on after we saw the Lions, we also saw a Leopard! A famously elusive animal, it was just sauntering along the side of the road, partially concealed by the waving grasses, before it turned and crossed the road just behind our vans. The Big 5 has been completed!